The Chicago Bears let this one slip away. The Seattle Seahawks stole another game at Soldier Field (third win in three years), beating the Bears 23-17 in overtime. Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall looked as reliable as Montana to Rice, but they needed someone else, anyone else, to step up. Earl Bennett had a chance to bury the Seahawks early, but whiffed on a sure touchdown catch.
The defense is starting to show their age with injuries abound. They can’t force five turnovers every week, but they needed more than just one this week. Lovie Smith didn’t do them any favors by saving his timeouts in overtime. The Bears need to learn from the mistakes they made here and get back to their winning ways.
Quarterback – A
This may have been Cutler’s best game of the season, throwing for 233 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. His QBR was 94.1, the third best in the league this week. His throws were crisp, his feet were agile, and he was upright for most of the game. It’s too bad his effort was wasted. He brought the team back with 20 seconds to go, but the defense couldn’t even give him a chance to win it in overtime.
Wide Receivers – B (for Brandon)
This category might as well be renamed “Brandon Marshall.” Earl Bennett had a nice touchdown catch, but missed a long pass from Cutler that could have been the difference in the game. But then, he left the game with a concussion, leaving the Bears with Eric Weems, Dane Sanzenbacher and Marshall. It was almost enough to win. Marshall finished with 10 catches and a season high 165 yards. Even his pass interference penalty was one of the smartest things I’ve seen a receiver do in a long time in Chicago. The icing on the cake would have been a touchdown catch in overtime. Alas, it was not meant to be.
Running Backs – B-
Matt Forte broke his three- game drought without a run over 10 yards or a catch over four yards. He finished with 30 receiving yards, a receiving touchdown, and 66 rushing yards, but only averaged 3.1 yards per rush. Michael Bush torched the Seahawks defense for 5.6 yards per carry, but only ran the ball seven times. This running back tandem combined to have a pretty productive game, yet again, but it seems like Lovie Smith still doesn’t know how to go with the hot hand.
Tight Ends/Fullback – C-
Kellen Davis still stinks. Matt Spaeth is still a capable blocker, but his false start killed the Bears momentum early in the game. If it weren’t for him, the Bears fourth down debacle may never have happened.
The Bears are finally using a healthy Evan Rodriguez to give Cutler another pass-catching option. Rodriguez caught two passes for eight yards and even threw a few nice blocks. Did I mention Davis still stinks?
Offensive Line – B-
This group may not (strike that … will not) make the Pro Bowl, but they are playing better than anyone could have hoped. Their run blocking may be a little below average, but they are doing everything they can to keep Cutler from getting thumped. J’Marcus Webb did have a costly false start late in the fourth quarter, but the rest of the guys held their own and only gave up one sack, which was after Cutler botched a fake handoff. If this group can stay healthy, they may be effective enough to give the Bears a chance at a deep playoff run.
Defensive Line – D
There is no excuse for giving up 176 rushing yards and a 5.5 yards per carry average. The Seahawks also had five runs of over 10 yards on their final two drives. Keeping Seahawks QB Russell Wilson in the pocket was a challenge all day, one they failed at miserably. They did manage two sacks (Julius Peppers, Stephen Paea), but everyone ran out of gas at the end and there were too many missed tackles. Shea McClellin continues to improve and could be a big factor in the Bears playoff run. Henry Melton continues to have a Pro Bowl-caliber season.
Linebackers – B-
Brian Urlacher looked great on one play and old on another. In the end, he finished the game with eight tackles, one pass deflection and a hard fought forced fumble. If he were healthy, he could have 12-15 tackles and force a turnover every game. He’s still a great linebacker.
Lance Briggs played well, but could be a liability if his injury doesn’t heal quickly. Nick Roach seems to make a big play or two every game. He might be seeing a lot more playing time if Urlacher and Briggs continue to be slowed by injury.
Secondary – D
Once Chris Conte left the game and Craig Steltz filled in, I knew the Bears had an open wound that could easily be exploited. Major Wright seemed to be lost without Conte. He missed an interception that could have ended the game and then missed a tackle on WR Golden Tate that could have stopped the Seahawks at the goal line.
The cornerbacks were also guilty of missed tackles and not stopping the Seahawks when it mattered. Giving up 293 yards, two touchdowns and an 85.4 QBR to a rookie quarterback is unacceptable for this group.
Special Teams – C+
Eric Weems looked like he never returned a kick or punt before in his life. He only had done it 195 times before this game. Why he took the kickoff out of the end zone with 24 seconds left, I don’t know. He’s lucky Marshall caught that bomb from Cutler.
Punter Adam Podlesh did everything he could to keep the Seahawks deep in their zone, but the defense couldn’t hold them. Robbie Gould looked like he could have hit that game-tying field goal with his eyes closed. If only he had the chance to make one early in the game. Overall, the special teams played well, but didn’t make a big enough impact in the game.
Coaching – D+
The play-calling from Mike Tice is improving, but I think Bush needs more touches. For once, the defense let the team down, when the offense made a miraculous comeback. That being said, why didn’t Lovie use a timeout in overtime to give the defense some rest? I can deal with going for it on fourth down and inches early in the game, but Lovie not recognizing that his defense had nothing left is inexcusable.
Overall – C